It’s difficult for Nathan Sanderson, executive director of the South Dakota Retailers Association, to contain his enthusiasm when talking about 2022, which marks the group’s 125th anniversary.
“We’re older than Ford Motor Company. We’re older than the World Series. We’re older than the National Park Service. So this is a really big milestone year for us,” he said.
SDRA includes the state’s associations for grocers, restaurants and hospitality groups. According to Sanderson, the organization plans to hold various events across the state during the spring and summer. It kicked off the anniversary festivities with its recent annual meeting.
Awards were presented for retailer of the year, community service and heritage, which went to a business that signed SDRA’s founding documents.
Although no grocers were listed as winners, RF Buche of Buche Foods received the inaugural Partner in Heath Award from the South Dakota Department of Health.
“We will likely have a record membership number this year…we’re proud of that, and we’re hoping to do what we can for the businesses of South Dakota,” Sanderson said.
The association has increased its membership each of the past two years.
“I think we can primarily attribute that to the information that we’ve put out for businesses,” Sanderson said in reference to the COVID-19 pandemic. “We were very timely, and I think, very thorough in the information that we put out. And so, businesses found that advantageous.”
Sanderson said the state legislative session typically has about 600 bills and SDRA usually tracks between 200 to 250.
“Our primary goals are always to keep taxes low and regulations reasonable,” he said. “One of the things that we’ve seen more prevalent in the last couple of legislative sessions is the bills that would create new causes of action to sue businesses, whether that’s related to vaccines or other types of, ‘mandates.’ I think that’s been something we’ve been working on a fair amount and are likely to see more in this legislative session.”
In broad terms Sanderson said the association is interested in the state budget.
“Our annual budget is around $6 billion and we’ve got $1 billion in one-time money to spend,” he said.
Workforce, supply chain and inflation
The main concerns for the association’s membership are workforce, supply chain and inflation, according to Sanderson.
The South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation reported that the unemployment rate was at 2.7 percent in November.
However, Sanderson believes most businesses are optimistic for 2022. “I think that during the pandemic, grocery stores did pretty well. And they’re looking to continue that throughout 2022,” he said.
“I think despite those major challenges – workforce, supply chain, inflation – businesses are adapting, they’re trying different things to both attract and retain workers that maybe three years ago they wouldn’t have considered. [Those include] things like assisting with childcare or providing additional flexibility, certainly increased salaries for a lot of folks.”
For more information, visit sdra.org.